A widow from Don Park, Ekurhuleni, got a rude awakening when she tried to collect her late husband's estate: she found Home Affairs had annulled her marriage and that her husband had "married" another woman eight months after he died.
The department's spokesman said he suspected corruption in the matter.
Thelma Ntshubu discovered 18months after her husband died that her marriage to Brian Khumalo had been annulled. Khumalo had owned a fleet of taxis and his estate was worth about R414000.
Ntshubu said he died in May 2003, four days after they had registered their union. They had had a relationship since 1989 and in 1994 they bought a house together.
Khumalo had appointed her executor of his estate, but when she went to complete the legal proceedings she was told that a different executor had taken over - and that her husband had apparently taken a new bride eight months after he died.
"We were married civilly, but eight months after he died the Department of Home Affairs decided that was not good enough and authorised a marriage certificate for someone else without even questioning the authenticity of my marriage.
"How was she able to marry my husband when he was already married to me? Did the officials at Home Affairs not realise that the man had been married?" she asked.
The matter had caused her such heartache she was no longer even interested in pursuing her inheritance.
"All I need is closure. The estate has not been finalised but I need to move on with my life."
But Ntshubu said she hoped her tale would push the department to review how it enforced the provisions of the Customary Marriage Act.
"If it is so easy for people just to walk into a Home Affairs office and get married, why would they not follow the right procedures? Clearly there are loopholes.
"The government needs to review that act. Maybe they passed it in good faith, but people are taking advantage of it."
Home Affairs spokesman Mantshele Tau said he suspected corruption in Ntshubu's case.
"It is not the department's policy to marry someone if he is already married to someone else," he said.
Tau said the department would investigate the matter, but he had not uncovered the facts before going to press.
Sowetan last week reported a similar bungle by the department's officials.
Sydwell Mfeka, 36, was livid after discovering that his former girlfriend, Lungile Nkosi, 25, had registered them as married.